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The Science Behind the ACTN3 PolymorphismLearning ObjectivesThis article accompanies the lesson "The ACTN3 Polymorphism: Applications in Genetics and Physiology Teaching Laboratories." Learning objectives for the lesson include:
- Test hypotheses related to the role of ACTN3 in skeletal muscle function.
- Explain how polymorphic variants of the ACTN3 gene affect protein structure and function.
- List and explain the differences between fast twitch and slow twitch muscle fibers.
- List and explain possible roles of the ACTN3 protein in skeletal muscle function.
- Find and analyze relevant scientific publications about the relationship between ACTN3 genotype and muscle function.
- Formulate hypotheses related to the relationship between ACTN3 genotype and skeletal muscle function.
- Design experiments to test hypotheses about the role of ACTN3 in skeletal muscle function.
- Statistically analyze experimental results using relevant software.
- Present experimental results in writing.
Infectious Chocolate Joy with a Side of Poissonian Statistics: An activity connecting life science students with subtle...Learning Objectives
- Students will define a Poisson distribution.
- Students will generate a data set on the probability of a T cell being infected with a virus(es).
- Students will predict the likelihood of one observing the mean value of viruses occurring.
- Students will evaluate the outcomes of a random process.
- Students will hypothesize whether a process is Poissonian and design a test for that hypothesis.
- Students will collect data and create a histogram from their data.
A CURE-based approach to teaching genomics using mitochondrial genomesLearning Objectives
- Install the appropriate programs such as Putty and WinSCP.
- Navigate NCBI's website including their different BLAST programs (e.g., blastn, tblastx, blastp and blastx)
- Use command-line BLAST to identify mitochondrial contigs within a whole genome assembly
- Filter the desired sequence (using grep) and move the assembled mitochondrial genome onto your own computer (using FTP or SCP)
- Error-correct contigs (bwa mem, samtools tview), connect and circularize organellar contigs (extending from filtered reads)
- Transform assembled sequences into annotated genomes
- Orient to canonical start locations in the mitochondrial genome (cox1)
- Identify the boundaries of all coding components of the mitochondrial genome using BLAST, including: Protein coding genes (BLASTx and tBLASTX), tRNAs (proprietary programs such as tRNAscan), rRNAs (BLASTn, Chlorobox), ORFs (NCBI's ORFFinder)
- Deposit annotation onto genome repository (NCBI)
- Update CV/resume to reflect bioinformatics skills learned in this lesson
Using QIIME to Interpret Environmental Microbial Communities in an Upper Level Metagenomics CourseLearning ObjectivesStudents will be able to:
- list and perform the steps of sequence processing and taxonomic inference.
- interpret microbial community diversity from metagenomic sequence datasets.
- compare microbial diversity within and between samples or treatments.
Inexpensive Cell Migration Inquiry Lab using ZebrafishLearning ObjectivesStudents will:
- formulate a hypothesis and design an experiment with the proper controls.
- describe the steps involved in the zebrafish wounding assay (treating zebrafish embryos with drugs or control substances, wounding the embryo, staining the embryo, and counting neutrophils near the wound).
- summarize results into a figure and write a descriptive figure legend.
- perform appropriate statistical analysis.
- interpret results in a discussion that draws connections between the cytoskeleton and cell migration.
- put data into context by appropriately using information from journal articles in the introduction and discussion of a lab report.
Using a Sequential Interpretation of Data in Envelopes (SIDE) approach to identify a mystery TRP channelLearning Objectives
- Students will be able to analyze data from multiple experimental methodologies to determine the identity of their "mystery" TRP channel.
- Students will be able to interpret the results of individual experiments and from multiple experiments simultaneously to identify their "mystery" TRP channel.
- Students will be able to evaluate the advantages and limitations of experimental methodologies presented in this lesson.
Exploring the March to Mars Using 3D Print ModelsLearning Objectives
- Students will be able to describe the major aspects of the Mars Curiosity Rover missions.
- Students will be able to synthesize information learned from a classroom jigsaw activity on the Mars Curiosity Rover missions.
- Students will be able to work in teams to plan a future manned mission to Mars.
- Students will be able to summarize their reports to the class.
Cutthroat trout in Colorado: A case study connecting evolution and conservationLearning ObjectivesStudents will be able to:
- interpret figures such as maps, phylogenies, STRUCTURE plots, and networks for species delimitation
- identify sources of uncertainty and disagreement in real data sets
- propose research to address or remedy uncertainty
- construct an evidence-based argument for the management of a rare taxon
Mice, Acorns, and Lyme Disease: a Case Study to Teach the Ecology of Emerging Infectious Diseases.Learning ObjectivesStudents will be able to...
- outline the life cycle of ticks and explain the transmission cycle of Lyme disease.
- describe factors that make mice a competent reservoir for Borrelia burgdorferi.
- analyze and interpret line and bar graphs of data on the effects of changes to ecological communities on the risk of human exposure to Lyme disease.
- explain how the incidence of Lyme disease is determined by interactions between bacteria, animals, humans and the environment.
- predict how changes in the ecosystem affect Borrelia burgdorferi transmission.
- explain how human activities affect biodiversity and the consequences of those actions on disease outbreaks.
In-class peer grading of daily quizzes increases feedback opportunitiesLearning ObjectivesEach of these objectives are illustrated with a succinct slide presentation or other supplemental material available ahead of class time through the course administration system. Learners found it particularly helpful to have video clips that remind them of mathematical manipulations available (in the above example objective c). Students understand that foundational objectives tend to be the focus of the quiz (objectives a-d) and that others will be given more time to work on together in class (objectives e-g), but I don't specify this exactly to reduce temptation that 'gamers' take a shortcut that would impact their group work negatively later on. However, the assignment for a focused graded group activity is posted as well, so it is clear what we are working towards; if desired individuals could prepare ahead of the class.
The Leaky Neuron: Understanding synaptic integration using an analogy involving leaky cupsLearning ObjectivesStudents will able to:
- compare and contrast spatial and temporal summation in terms of the number of presynaptic events and the timing of these events
- predict the relative contribution to reaching threshold and firing an action potential as a function of distance from the axon hillock
- predict how the frequency of incoming presynaptic action potentials effects the success of temporal summation of resultant postsynaptic potentials
Quantifying and Visualizing Campus Tree PhenologyLearning ObjectivesThe Learning Objectives of this lesson span across the entire semester.
- Observe and collect information on phenological changes in local trees.
- Become familiar with a database and how to work with large datasets.
- Analyze and visualize data from the database to test their hypotheses and questions.
- Develop a research proposal including empirically-driven questions and hypotheses.
- Synthesize the results of their analysis in the context of plant biodiversity and local environmental conditions.
A Close-Up Look at PCRLearning ObjectivesAt the end of this lesson students will be able to...
- Describe the role of a primer in PCR
- Predict sequence and length of PCR product based on primer sequences
- Recognize that primers are incorporated into the final PCR products and explain why
- Identify covalent and hydrogen bonds formed and broken during PCR
- Predict the structure of PCR products after each cycle of the reaction
- Explain why amplification proceeds exponentially
The Case of the Missing Strawberries: RFLP analysisLearning ObjectivesStudents will be able to:
- Describe the relationship of cells, chromosomes, and DNA.
- Isolate DNA from strawberries.
- Digest DNA with restriction enzymes.
- Perform gel electrophoresis.
- Design an experiment to compare DNAs by RFLP analysis.
- Predict results of RFLP analysis.
- Interpret results of RFLP analysis.
- Use appropriate safety procedures in the lab.
Exploration of the Human Genome by Investigation of Personalized SNPsLearning ObjectivesStudents successfully completing this lesson will be able to:
- Effectively use the bioinformatics databases (SNPedia, the UCSC Genome Browser, and NCBI) to explore SNPs of interest within the human genome.
- Identify three health-related SNPs of personal interest and use the UCSC Genome Browser to define their precise chromosomal locations and determine whether they lie within a gene or are intergenic.
- Establish a list of all genome-wide association studies correlated with a particular health-related SNP.
- Predict which model organism would be most appropriate for conducting further research on a human disease.
Sex-specific differences in Meiosis: Real-world applicationsLearning ObjectivesAfter completion of the lesson students will be able to:
- Describe the differences between female and male meiosis.
- Interpret graphical data to make decisions relevant to medical practices.
- Develop a hypothesis that explains the difference in incidence of aneuploidy in gametes between males and females.
Learning to Pipet Correctly by Pipetting Incorrectly?Learning Objectives
- Students will be able to use analytical balances and micropipettes.
- Students will be able to calculate averages and standard deviations.
- Students will be able to use t-tests to compare two independent samples.
- Students will be able to justify accepting or rejecting a null hypothesis based on an interpretation of p-values.
- Students will learn to use spreadsheet software such as Microsoft Excel and/or Google Sheets
- Students will be able to explain how pipetting incorrectly leads to errors.
Understanding Protein Domains: A Modular ApproachLearning Objectives
- Students will be able to compare protein sequences and identify conserved regions and putative domains.
- Students will be able to obtain, examine, and compare structural models of protein domains.
- Students will be able to interpret data on protein interactions (in vitro pull-down and in vitro and in vivo functional assays)
- Students will be able to propose experiments to test protein interactions.
Tackling "Big Data" with Biology Undergrads: A Simple RNA-seq Data Analysis Tutorial Using GalaxyLearning Objectives
- Students will locate and download high-throughput sequence data and genome annotation files from publically available data repositories.
- Students will use Galaxy to create an automated computational workflow that performs sequence quality assessment, trimming, and mapping of RNA-seq data.
- Students will analyze and interpret the outputs of RNA-seq analysis programs.
- Students will identify a group of genes that is differentially expressed between treatment and control samples, and interpret the biological significance of this list of differentially expressed genes.
Dynamic Daphnia: An inquiry-based research experience in ecology that teaches the scientific process to first-year...Learning ObjectivesStudents will be able to:
- Construct written predictions about 1 factor experiments.
- Interpret simple (2 variables) figures.
- Construct simple (2 variables) figures from data.
- Design simple 1 factor experiments with appropriate controls.
- Demonstrate proper use of standard laboratory items, including a two-stop pipette, stereomicroscope, and laboratory notebook.
- Calculate means and standard deviations.
- Given some scaffolding (instructions), select the correct statistical test for a data set, be able to run a t-test, ANOVA, chi-squared test, and linear regression in Microsoft Excel, and be able to correctly interpret their results.
- Construct and present a scientific poster.
Authentic Ecological Inquiries Using BearCam ArchivesLearning ObjectivesStudents will be able to:
- conduct an authentic ecological inquiry including
- generate a testable hypothesis based on observations,
- design investigation with appropriate sampling selection and variables,
- collect and analyze data following the design, and
- interpret results and draw conclusions based on the evidence.
- write a research report with appropriate structure and style.
- evaluate the quality of inquiry reports using a rubric.
- conduct peer review to evaluate and provide feedback to others' work.
- revise the inquiry report based on peer feedback and self-assessment.
- conduct an authentic ecological inquiry including
Using Yeast to Make Scientists: A Six-Week Student-Driven Research Project for the Cell Biology LaboratoryLearning Objectives
- Learn about basic S. cerevisiae biology
- Use sterile technique
- Perform a yeast viability assay
- Use a spectrophotometer to measure growth of S. cerevisiae
- Perform a literature search
- Calculate concentrations of chemicals appropriate for S. cerevisiae
- Generate S. cerevisiae growth curves
- Troubleshoot experimental difficulties
- Perform statistical analysis
- Present findings to an audience
Discovering Prokaryotic Gene Regulation by Building and Investigating a Computational Model of the lac OperonLearning ObjectivesStudents will be able to:
- model how the components of the lac operon contribute to gene regulation and expression.
- generate and test predictions using computational modeling and simulations.
- interpret and record graphs displaying simulation results.
- relate simulation results to cellular events.
- describe how changes in environmental glucose and lactose levels impact regulation of the lac operon.
- predict, test, and explain how mutations in specific elements in the lac operon affect their protein product and other elements within the operon.
A Kinesthetic Modeling Activity to Teach PCR FundamentalsLearning ObjectivesStudents will be able to:
- Draw or model the first three cycles of PCR, including the correct directionality (5’- and 3’-ends) of the primers and single-stranded PCR products.
- Diagram how single-stranded products from the first cycle of PCR are used as templates for subsequent PCR cycles.
- Demonstrate which parts of the primers will anneal to the original DNA template and subsequent PCR products.
- Model and demonstrate when the primer restriction enzyme sites are incorporated into double-stranded PCR products.
- Calculate the number of desired-length PCR products and long PCR products for each amplification cycle.
- Demonstrate how the incorporation of primer restriction enzyme sites into PCR products is a useful tool for subsequent cloning of the product into a vector.
Using the Cell Engineer/Detective Approach to Explore Cell Structure and FunctionLearning ObjectivesStudents will be able to:
- Identify the major cell organelles
- List the major functions of the organelles
- Predict how changes in organelle/cell structure could alter cellular function
- Explain how overall cellular function is dependent upon organelles/cell structure
- Relate cell structure to everyday contexts
Teaching RNAseq at Undergraduate Institutions: A tutorial and R package from the Genome Consortium for Active TeachingLearning Objectives
- From raw RNAseq data, run a basic analysis culminating in a list of differentially expressed genes.
- Explain and evaluate statistical tests in RNAseq data. Specifically, given the output of a particular test, students should be able to interpret and explain the result.
- Use the Linux command line to complete specified objectives in an RNAseq workflow.
- Generate meaningful visualizations of results from new data in R.
- (In addition, each chapter of this lesson plan contains more specific learning objectives, such as “Students will demonstrate their ability to map reads to a reference.”)
Discovering Cellular Respiration with Computational Modeling and SimulationsLearning ObjectivesStudents will be able to:
- Describe how changes in cellular homeostasis affect metabolic intermediates.
- Perturb and interpret a simulation of cellular respiration.
- Describe cellular mechanisms regulating cellular respiration.
- Describe how glucose, oxygen, and coenzymes affect cellular respiration.
- Describe the interconnectedness of cellular respiration.
- Identify and describe the inputs and outputs of cellular respiration, glycolysis, pyruvate processing, citric acid cycle, and the electron transport chain.
- Describe how different energy sources are used in cellular respiration.
- Trace carbon through cellular respiration from glucose to carbon dioxide.
A Short Laboratory Module to Help Infuse Metacognition during an Introductory Course-based Research ExperienceLearning Objectives
- Students will be able to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of data.
- Students will be able to employ prior knowledge in formulating a biological research question or hypothesis.
- Students will be able to distinguish a research question from a testable hypothesis.
- Students will recognize that the following are essential elements in experimental design: identifying gaps in prior knowledge, picking an appropriate approach (ex. experimental tools and controls) for testing a hypothesis, and reproducibility and repeatability.
- Students will be able to identify appropriate experimental tools, approaches and controls to use in testing a hypothesis.
- Students will be able to accurately explain why an experimental approach they have selected is a good choice for testing a particular hypothesis.
- Students will be able to discuss whether experimental outcomes support or fail to support a particular hypothesis, and in the case of the latter, discuss possible reasons why.
CURE-all: Large Scale Implementation of Authentic DNA Barcoding Research into First-Year Biology CurriculumLearning ObjectivesStudents will be able to: Week 1-4: Fundamentals of Science and Biology
- List the major processes involved in scientific discovery
- List the different types of scientific studies and which types can establish causation
- Design experiments with appropriate controls
- Create and evaluate phylogenetic trees
- Define taxonomy and phylogeny and explain their relationship to each other
- Explain DNA sequence divergence and how it applies to evolutionary relationships and DNA barcoding
- Define and measure biodiversity and explain its importance
- Catalog organisms using the morphospecies concept
- Geographically map organisms using smartphones and an online mapping program
- Calculate metrics of species diversity using spreadsheet software
- Use spreadsheet software to quantify and graph biodiversity at forest edges vs. interiors
- Write a formal lab report
- Extract, amplify, visualize and sequence DNA using standard molecular techniques (PCR, gel electrophoresis, Sanger sequencing)
- Explain how DNA extraction, PCR, gel electrophoresis, and Sanger sequencing work at the molecular level
- Trim and assemble raw DNA sequence data
- Taxonomically identify DNA sequences isolated from unknown organisms using BLAST
- Visualize sequence data relationships using sequence alignments and gene-based phylogenetic trees
- Map and report data in a publicly available online database
- Share data in a formal scientific poster
Modeling the Research Process: Authentic human physiology research in a large non-majors courseLearning ObjectivesStudents will be able to:
- Read current scientific literature
- Formulate testable hypotheses
- Design an experimental procedure to test their hypothesis
- Make scientific observations
- Analyze and interpret data
- Communicate results visually and orally
Teaching students to read, interpret, and write about scientific research: A press release assignment in a large, lower...Learning ObjectivesStudents will:
- interpret the main conclusions and their supporting evidence in a primary research article.
- concisely communicate the significance of scientific findings to an educated nonspecialist audience.
- identify the components of a primary research article and the components of the "inverted pyramid" press release structure.
- identify the central figure in a primary research paper and describe its key finding.
- demonstrate an understanding of intellectual property by giving appropriate credit to other people's original work.
Promoting Climate Change Literacy for Non-majors: Implementation of an atmospheric carbon dioxide modeling activity as...Learning Objectives
- Students will be able to manipulate and produce data and graphs.
- Students will be able to design a simple mathematical model of atmospheric CO2 that can be used to make predictions.
- Students will be able to conduct simulations, analyze, interpret, and draw conclusions about atmospheric CO2 levels from their own computer generated simulated data.
Visits to the writing center and office hours provide students structured reflection and low-stakes feedback on...Learning Objectives
- Students will be able to write a lab report that contains a descriptive title, complete and concise abstract, substantive and relevant introduction that includes a testable hypothesis, descriptive methods, description and comparison of results of various testable groups, biological explanation of the results that reflect the testable hypothesis, a conclusion that contains societal implications or scientific impact, and references cited in the document.
- Students will be able to self-identify weaknesses and strengths of their writing.
- Students will understand how to utilize office hours and the writing center to receive feedback on their lab reports.
Discovering Prokaryotic Gene Regulation with Simulations of the trp OperonLearning ObjectivesStudents will be able to:
- Perturb and interpret simulations of the trp operon.
- Define how simulation results relate to cellular events.
- Describe the biological role of the trp operon.
- Describe cellular mechanisms regulating the trp operon.
- Explain mechanistically how changes in the extracellular environment affect the trp operon.
- Define the impact of mutations on trp operon expression and regulation.
Coevolution or not? Crossbills, squirrels and pineconesLearning Objectives
- Define coevolution.
- Identify types of evidence that would help determine whether two species are currently in a coevolutionary relationship.
- Interpret graphs.
- Evaluate evidence about whether two species are coevolving and use evidence to make a scientific argument.
- Describe what evidence of a coevolutionary relationship might look like.
- Distinguish between coadaptation and coevolution.
Bad Science: Exploring the unethical research behind a putative memory supplementLearning ObjectivesStudents will be able to:
- create criteria for evaluating information that is touted as scientific.
- apply those criteria to evaluate the claim that Prevagen® enhances memory.
- identify the misleading tactics used on the Prevagen® website and in their self-published reporting.
- decide whether to recommend taking Prevagen® and explain their decisions.
Homologous chromosomes? Exploring human sex chromosomes, sex determination and sex reversal using bioinformatics...Learning ObjectivesStudents successfully completing this lesson will:
- Practice navigating an online bioinformatics resource and identify evidence relevant to solving investigation questions
- Contrast the array of genes expected on homologous autosomal chromosomes pairs with the array of genes expected on sex chromosome pairs
- Use bioinformatics evidence to defend the definition of homologous chromosomes
- Define chromosomal sex and defend the definition using experimental data
- Investigate the genetic basis of human chromosomal sex determination
- Identify at least two genetic mutations can lead to sex reversal
The Avocado Lab: An Inquiry-Driven Exploration of an Enzymatic Browning ReactionLearning ObjectivesStudents will be able to:
- develop a testable research question and supportive hypothesis regarding the browning of damaged avocado flesh caused by the activity of avocado polyphenol oxidase (aPPO).
- design and execute a well-controlled experiment to test aPPO hypotheses.
- evaluate qualitative enzyme activity data.
- create a figure and legend to present qualitative data that tests multiple hypotheses and variables.
- search for and correctly cite primary literature to support or refute hypotheses.
- know the role of reducing reagents, pH, chelators, and temperature in reactions catalyzed by aPPO.
- explain why the effects of salt and detergent differ for aPPO experiments conducted in situ
- (in mashed avocado flesh) as compared to in vitro (on purified protein).
- discuss how substrate and cofactor availability affect aPPO reactions.
- describe how endogenous subcellular organization restricts aPPO reactions in a healthy avocado.
- evaluate food handling practices for fruits expressing PPO.
Does it pose a threat? Investigating the impact of Bt corn on monarch butterfliesLearning ObjectivesStudents will be able to:
- Apply genetics concepts to a relevant case study of Bt corn and monarch butterflies
- Read figures and text from primary literature
- Identify claims presented in scientific studies
- Evaluate data presented in scientific studies
- Critically reason using data
- Evaluate the consequences of GM technology on non-target organisms
- Communicate scientific data orally
Investigating the Function of a Transport Protein: Where is ABCB6 Located in Human Cells?Learning ObjectivesAt the end of this activity students will be able to:
- describe the use of two common research techniques for studying proteins: SDS-PAGE and immunoblot analysis.
- determine a protein’s subcellular location based on results from: 1) immunoblotting after differential centrifugation, and 2) immunofluorescence microscopy.
- analyze protein localization data based on the limitations of differential centrifugation and immunofluorescence microscopy.
Why do Some People Inherit a Predisposition to Cancer? A small group activity on cancer geneticsLearning ObjectivesAt the end of this activity, we expect students will be able to:
- Use family pedigrees and additional genetic information to determine inheritance patterns for hereditary forms of cancer
- Explain why a person with or without cancer can pass on a mutant allele to the next generation and how that impacts probability calculations
- Distinguish between proto-oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes